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European novel food, patents and brokers of knowledge

Sveinung Grimsby (Nofima Ås, Tromso, Norway)
Magnus Gulbrandsen (TIK, Universitetet i Oslo, Oslo, Norway)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 12 May 2022

Issue publication date: 17 May 2022




The purpose of this paper was to study how public regulation promotes or hinders openness in the food industry, specifically how European novel food regulation has affected external ties among novel food pioneers seen through patents and their inventors.


A multiphase mixed-methods design was used to combine data as follows: Worldwide patents originating from Norwegian novel food pioneers 2004–2019, downloaded through the European Patent Office database. Application data and interviews were analysed together with substantial information on 88 patents.


Firms use patenting and novel food applications as part of a wider intellectual property rights strategy to guard against unintended spillovers and to shape external collaboration. Examinations of patents indicate a pattern of selective partnership with research and development (R&D) providers.

Practical implications

Food industry actors can combine property rights strategies to maintain a pattern of openness and external collaboration. R&D providers should consider the food industry's flag-planting strategies by integrating these into contractual regulations.


Little is known earlier about how novel food pioneers collaborate with suppliers, research actors, governmental actors, distributors and customers regarding new product development.



The authors thank the Norwegian Fund for Research Fees for Agricultural Products (FFL) for supporting the study through the project “InnoFood” (NRC262303), “InNOBox” (NRC281106) and “FoodForFuture” (NRC314318). Further the authors thank Dr. Kasper Christensen, Dr. Øydis Ueland, Dr. Cathrine Finne Kure, Dr. Kristin Hollung, Stine Hersleth and Dr. Antje Gonera for providing helpful comments on the manuscript. Comments from anonymous referees have been appreciated.


Grimsby, S. and Gulbrandsen, M. (2022), "European novel food, patents and brokers of knowledge", British Food Journal, Vol. 124 No. 6, pp. 1959-1974.



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